Three years after the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old woman in South Delhi’s Vasant Vihar, some areas in south-west and south Delhi remain the most ‘vulnerable’ to crime, according to data collated by the Delhi Police.
In the last three years, the police have identified 2,177 ‘dark spots’ in the city, bereft of functioning street lights, and written over 100 letters to the Delhi government’s public works department (PWD) to look into the matter urgently. In its letters, the police have pointed out that sometimes even though non-functional streetlights are repaired, they remain unlit in these stretches.
In the wake of the Delhi gangrape, a committee had been formed to look into the issue of ‘dark spots’ and areas that needed street lights. A security audit was also conducted by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre and the traffic police, to identify vulnerable and unsafe spots.
The study found that most cases of sexual assaults occur in often-deserted places like flyovers, signal-free corridors, subways, parks and parking lots.
A list of ‘dark spots’ was then prepared by the police and sent to the PWD and the civic agencies concerned. However, most of the streetlights in these areas remain either non-functional or unlit due to lack of coordination between police, civic agencies and the government.
Blaming civic agencies and the PWD for “lack of action”, a senior official of Delhi Police said that while they regularly share reports on “dark spots”, no action has been taken either by the municipal corporations nor by the government to fix defunct street lights.
Additional policemen have been deployed at these spots, said the official.
“The police identified these dark spots and wrote letters to various agencies of the Delhi government about installing high-mast street lights on some of these stretches. Despite repeated reminders, they have not installed adequate street lights on these stretches… now the police are again planning to send a list to the PWD and civic agencies, urging them to repair the streetlights and install lamp posts wherever necessary,” added the officer.
PWD officials, on the other hand, claimed that the department neither had enough manpower to check every streetlight in the city nor the funds to install new ones.